Salamanca superintendent gives update on Vets Park project

SALAMANCA — With the possibility of a renovation project at Veterans Memorial Park ongoing, Salamanca City Central School District officials said talks continue with the city and Seneca Nation of Indians to bring it to fruition.

At the July 31 Salamanca Board of Education meeting, Robert Breidenstein, the district superintendent, updated the board on the status of preparations.

“We continue to work, at this point in time, through the attorneys dealing with some insurance issues,” he said. “This is a complicated matter that is a good venture for the Nation, the city and the school district to try to get to point of seeing what can be done to improve facilities at Veterans Park.”

So far, Breidenstein said there has been little discussion over what potential structural improvements to the park could be as they work through the logistics of use and access.

However, it will be a significant investment on the part of the school district, he said, utilizing existing funds on hand.

The city and school are on the third iteration of the inter-municipality agreement, Breidenstein said, so the parties involved can discuss how the facility will be leased and how they will have access to the property moving forward.

“We think, and our attorney and the city attorney have advised, that is an important structural part to make sure that if the school district is in a position to sub-lease, then we have a very strong, very clear and very public agreement on the field usage,” he explained.

Because of the Indian Lease Agreement through the city, the district’s unique geography on Seneca territory and dealings with the state Department of Education, Breidenstein said the process will take time but they are getting closer.

“We want it to be used by the community for athletic, civic and cultural events morning, noon and night,” he added.

Since December 2017, school and city officials have been discussing the possibility of renovating or repairing much of the city-owned park, particularly its athletic fields.

In April 1927, the park was dedicated as a memorial of Salamanca soldiers. Following a fundraising drive, development on the former state nursery plot off Broad Street began the following month.

The city has hosted several large events in the park for many years, most notably the Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Pow Wow. In July 1989, the first Native American powwow dance competition was held at Veterans Memorial Park.

The school district currently uses the park for several of the school’s athletic events, notably as the home field for the varsity football and lacrosse games.

(Contact editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Kellen_Quigley)

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